Airalo: Transforming global connectivity with eSIM innovation
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Airalo: Transforming global connectivity with eSIM innovation

Airalo: Transforming global connectivity with eSIM innovation

Airalo, a leading eSIM marketplace, reveals its expansion plans as global travel surges

Marisha Singh

Airalo, an eSIM marketplace is changing the way we stay connected globally, and has made significant strides since its inception in 2019.

Offering affordable prepaid data plans for over 200 countries and regions worldwide, Airalo has catered to over 5 million customers, providing seamless connectivity through its user-friendly platform.

Known for its extensive network coverage, competitive pricing, and exceptional customer support, Airalo aims to become a go-to solution for travellers and global citizens.

In 2023, Airalo recently announced the successful completion of its Series B financing round in 2023, securing $60m. This round was led by e& capital, the investment arm of the global technology group e&, and included participation from notable investors such as Antler Elevate, Liberty Global, Orange, T.Capital, Rakuten Capital, Singtel Innov8, Telefónica Ventures, Sequoia Capital India and SEA’s Surge (now known as Peak XV Partners), KPN Ventures, and I2BF Global Ventures. This brings Airalo’s total funding to an impressive $67.3m, marking a new chapter in its mission to enhance global connectivity.

Gulf Business sat down with Tony Kaldas – Director of Partnerships – Arabia & Africa at Airalo, to delve into the company’s journey, its impact on the eSIM market, and its exciting future plans following this substantial funding achievement.

Q. What was the starting point of the idea of an eSIM store?

We began as a simple realisation: individuals are facing challenges in staying connected while on the move. Our co-founders Ahmet Bahadir Ozdemir and Abraham Burak noticed a gap in the travel market. Whether it’s spotty Wi-Fi or long queues for a SIM card at the airport, travelers could fly across continents but connectivity was an issue.

Disappointed by the limitations of the conventional forms of travel connectivity, they saw an opportunity to redefine travel connectivity through eSIM technology. Their brainchild, Airalo, offered travellers a game-changing solution: the ability to purchase virtual eSIM packages directly to their devices, eliminating the need for expensive alternatives and providing instant, hassle-free connectivity in over 200 countries and regions.

Q. Why do users need an eSIM store?

Users need Airalo to get connected wherever they are in the world. Instead of waiting around for a SIM card or incurring huge roaming bills, users can install an eSIM on their phones in minutes. It’s 100 per cent digital, and simply put: an easy and cost-effective way of staying connected abroad.

Airalo is also the world’s first and largest eSIM store with eSIM plans for 200+ countries and regions. Thanks to our strong local and global telecom partnerships, we are able to offer the widest coverage, at affordable prices.

Q. What are the biggest goals and challenges at the moment?

The biggest challenge we face is eSIM awareness. For many, this is a relatively new concept and technology, so there is an education and awareness barrier. However, with the introduction of eSIM-only iPhones in the US since the iPhone 14, more and more travelers are relying on eSIM technology to remain connected. Consequently, thanks to our awareness and marketing efforts alongside the rise of eSIM technology, eSIM awareness is continuously increasing.

Our goal, as it has been since the start, is to alleviate the pain of connectivity for people on the move by building the gateway to instant connectivity worldwide. A few taps on our app is all it takes.

Q. How is Airalo’s market development now? Targets regions and sectors.

Since 2019, we have grown from a handful of employees to 250+ from 55 countries and six continents.

Our consumers live around the world; some of the top markets in terms of growth in the last year were the US, UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Singapore and Australia. The top destinations that our users prefer to travel to are the United States, Japan, and Italy among others. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are in the top 15 globally.

Most Airalo users based in the region prefer to travel within the Gulf region, with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and UAE being the most preferred destinations. Other popular destinations away from home for our region-based users include Turkey, the UK, Thailand, Italy and the US.

In the past year, we’ve also noticed significant growth, particularly amongst the Gulf markets led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. As of today on the App Store, we rank in the top 5 in the travel category in the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar, Oman, amongst many others.

On the B2B and B2B2C front, we have thousands of active partners around the world who are actively promoting Airalo and eSIMs from Airalo to their consumers and community.

Q. How are you leveraging investments by Telefonica, e& and others?

We are fortunate to have investments from major companies like e& and other significant global players. Partnering with these telecom giants provides access to their network, preferential pricing and industry insights. We are continuously growing and expanding our remote-first team of over 250 employees worldwide.

Recently, we launched our partner platform, Airalo Partners, a custom solution built for businesses to keep their customers easily connected through eSIMs from Airalo, while also providing an attractive revenue opportunity. Organisations benefit by offering eSIMs to their employees and saving significantly on travel connectivity costs.

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